a chat with actress & photographer, Farrah Aviva – Reignland

Farrah Aviva is an artist who splits her time equally in front of the camera as well as behind it. With a 15-year career in the arts, Farrah is one of the most sought after portrait photographers for Public Figures and Social Influencers. She has a lengthy, diverse resume in film/television ranging from acting to directing. Farrah is also the creator of BITE THE BULLET Stories which features celebrities to everyday people sharing their personal stories of struggle with the hopes of helping others in need. Farrah began her career in the arts in New York as a designer and fashion show coordinator. She worked with brands such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Oscar de la Renta, and Paris Hilton. Applying her experience in production with some of fashion’s greatest designers, Farrah began to pursue her photography career while also acting in a variety of film and tv shows such as Lucifer, iZombie, Supernatural, Bates Motel, A Million Little Things, The Professor, and many more.

How has 2020 treated you so far?

In all honesty, it hasn’t been that bad, but of course, like for many, it turned my life upside down and I’m still in the process of sorting it all out. With the speed, everything happened and shut down this year I felt like I had no choice but to embrace it which has been a wonderful experience of letting go and trusting the flow.I received my green card and moved to Los Angeles at the start of 2019 and spent most of that year grinding beyond what was healthy for my physical and mental well-being. I was in the process of opening a new photo studio in a city where no one knew me, and I was dedicating every spare second I had to building BITE THE BULLET Stories. As fulfilling as it was, it was HARD. So when 2020 came I finally felt like all the benefits of that grind were beginning to appear.I suddenly had clients coming in faster than I could keep up with, I paid off my debt that formed from devoting 2 years to BTBS and I signed with a talent agent. Things were good!

Just as I was driving to set to start the first day of a film in March, I got a call that said production had been shut down due to COVID and to turn back.And then shortly after the Canadian/American governments announced the borders were closing.My husband was based in Toronto for work at the time, so I decided not to fight it, and shut everything down in LA and go back to Canada to wait this out with him. I expected to fall to the floor in tears.All the hard work, all the years it took me to get there, gone.But it was actually the biggest relief, and exactly what I was supposed to do.Since then I’ve been going back and forth a bit, but I’ve had a tremendous amount of time to build things in my life that I never would have otherwise.

You created the “Bite The Bullet Stories” movement. Can you share how the movement started and how it evolved up until now?

As with millions of people, the quest for mental wellness has been a life-long journey for me. I’ve seen many of those closest to me – including members of my immediate family- struggle with mental health issues, and the shame that is commonly associated with it. Two years ago I decided to photograph both everyday people and celebrities ‘biting the bullet’ and posted their image with their story of overcoming a personal struggle. Quickly I was inundated with messages from people around the world wishing to take part. Sharing how these stories literally saved their life. The instant and positive impact that I saw it leave on people around the world motivated me to drop everything in order to build the community that it has become to date.

What is the ideal future you have in mind for “Bite The Bullet Stories”?

We’re working towards building it into a global community that celebrates each other’s triumphs while offering coachings, retreats and most importantly community.A lot needs to be done in order to do that properly, but after two years, the foundation for this is almost built.

You are also an amazing photographer. In your opinion, what makes a picture stand out from the rest?

Telling a story within each frame. Whether that be in the subjects eyes, body positioning, wardrobe, and or set dec.For me the point of a photograph is to capture a moment, to tell a story, to make someone connect.

Who are some artists you would love to photograph?

Honestly, I love them all. No matter how famous, or how green. All artists have a special quality to them that I adore so I don’t really have a ‘dream artist’ I’m hoping to photograph one day.Of course, if De Niro, Johnny Depp, or Tilda Swinton asked me for a shoot, I’d probably feel high from the ecstasy of it for years.

What are some things you hope to cross off your bucket list once everything goes back to normal?

When travel is possible again I want to work abroad with animal sanctuaries.I would also love to do a silent retreat, whether that be a zen meditation retreat or a walking retreat in Spain, I love silence and think it would be an incredible experience to sit with it for a week. I also wouldn’t mind working up the courage to do a guided ayahuasca retreat. And maybe live in a small village in France one day. If I only accomplished one or two of those things I’d be very happy!

Who are some artists that inspire you?

Patti Smith and Pablo Picasso are two artists that fill my soul with so much delight. Their stories are incredibly different, but at the root of each is incredible perseverance and authenticity to fulfilling their dreams.The ups and downs they went through, the struggles they had to face and overcome are so inspiring. I highly recommend the books, Loving Picasso, and Life with Picasso which are incredible memoirs written by two women he was involved with at different points in his career.And I also recommend, Just Kids by Patti Smith.I could read those books over and over again.

What are some causes that are dear to your heart and hope to bring awareness to in the future through your platforms?

Through BTBS I’m already bringing awareness to issues around mental health but another cause I’d love to focus on is the environment.It is of utmost importance to me, and I really wish it were for everyone else too.In my humble opinion, if we don’t fix the crisis with global warming, and for some, just admit there is a crisis, then we’re going to lose everything. Everything should come second priority to the environment.We should all be asking ourselves on a daily basis, what else can I do? My husband and I became vegan 3 years ago, and we do everything in our power to reduce the use of plastics.But I still don’t feel like that’s enough.I want to get more involved and help clean the oceans and plant trees.

What is the best advice you have gotten and from whom?

My dad was the first person to introduce me to the power of positive thinking. He gave me a list of books to read. I took his advice and read those books, and it changed my life, simply by changing my thinking. Positive thinking and the power of attraction allows you to rely on yourself and not wait for someone else to provide miracles for you. We all have the power to create them ourselves through our thoughts. It’s quite magical.

What do you hope to achieve through your art?

All I care to do is leave a positive impact on others and this planet. Whether that be through my art, or through my daily interactions with people. That’s my driving force every morning that I wake up.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job as an artist?

That it is glamorous! Perhaps the film/tv side of it is more glamorous, but the photography side is so much physical exertion that I never feel less glamorous than when I’m in the middle of a shoot. Some photographers seem more capable of keeping a ‘cool’ vibe while they shoot.But for me, and maybe it’s because of my size, I’m lugging gear that’s much heavier and larger than I, crawling on the ground and contorting into weird positions to get the shot, and sweating.At the end of a shoot I feel like half my makeup has been wiped off from having my camera pressed against my face for hours, and I’m hunched over like a 90-year-old woman with back problems.I don’t realize any of this when I’m in the moment. Just when the dreaded words come up, “can we take a selfie together?” That’s when I say pause and run to my makeup bag in an attempt to make myself look human again.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m going to invest more time in FILM/TV again by director-shadowing and expanding my skills that way.Once I can do that, I feel like I’ll be able to blend BTBS, photography and my FILM/TV experience in an incredibly powerful way.